Joint Statement on BATF Litigation - April 24, 2004

Joint Statement on BATF Litigation - April 24, 2004
Hobby rocketry received some major relief from the U.S. District Court
in Washington, DC, last Thursday. On April 22, 2004, Judge Reggie
Walton agreed with NAR/TRA's interpretation of his recent order our
court case. Judge Walton said that the 1994 Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) exemption granted to hobby
rockets as "propellant actuated devices" (PADs) remains valid.
This means that unless and until BATFE properly promulgates a rule
rescinding the 1994 PADs exemption, fully assembled rocket motors are
propellant actuated devices under the law and are exempt from
regulation by BATFE.
We are free to fly, at least for the time being
Judge Walton further said that if BATFE agents take any enforcement
action in the field that are not consistent with this ruling, NAR and
TRA should come back to his court immediately and seek an injunction
against BATFE.
BATFE has already said they intend to promulgate a rule rescinding the
PADs exemption, and that they believe they can have it completed by
December 2004. Their recent undertaking with regard to rulemaking on
the 62.5 grams issue would suggest otherwise with regard to their
ability to complete a rulemaking in a timely fashion.
The hearing before Judge Walton in Washington was a status hearing
reviewing his March 19, 2004 order in our case. NAR/TRA Counsel Joe
Egan and Marty Malsch sought clarification about the PADs portion of
Judge Walton's ruling in response to member reports of BATFE agents
insisting that the PAD exemption did not exist for rocket motors.
Judge Walton told NAR/TRA and BATFE to reach agreement on the specific
questions raised by our lawyers, and Joe Egan sent a letter explaining
the NAR/TRA position to BATFE on Friday, April 23. The text of the
letter can be downloaded at
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(Note: this letter is a 625Kb PDF file.)
We suggest that members keep a printed copy of this letter with them
any time you are engaged in rocketry activities and if a BATFE agent,
who may not be fully aware of Judge Walton's decision, raises this
issue, show them the letter and suggest that they contact your legal
Members who either are threatened or receive enforcement action should
immediately contact NAR President Mark Bundick via email
( or at 630-293-9343 or TRA President Dick Embry via
email (, or at 520-241-1582 and provide full details
of those action or threats. NAR/TRA counsel will then seek the
appropriate relief from Judge Walton's court.
NAR and TRA board members are actively monitoring the Federal Register
and will notify the full membership if and when BATFE issues a
"Proposed Notice of Rulemaking" on the PADs issue. Members who wish to
monitor the Federal Register on their own may visit:
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and sign up to receive daily notices. Members who instead wish to
periodically view BATFE rule making underway can visit:
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to see outstanding and historical rule making activities from BATFE.
Finally, Judge Walton scheduled his next status hearing for December
19, 2004, to review any BATFE progress on rule making.
We encourage members to turn their attention back to the flying field
to enjoy the safe, educational and fun sport rocketry hobby, and spend
less time worrying about BATFE enforcement action.
Our counsel continues to provide outstanding legal advice and support
to our cause. Our thanks to Joe Egan and Marty Malsch for their
extensive legal preparation and for their hospitality in welcoming us
to Washington, DC.
As always, we appreciate the comments, input and support of NAR and
TRA members in this fight. And, as our case proceeds, we will continue
to need your financial support to build on this victory. We urge you
to visit:
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and make a donation to the Legal Defense Fund today, in whatever
amount you possibly can contribute. Your support and generosity will
be recognized and acknowledged, and you'll be able to say "I supported
the fight for an unregulated sport rocket hobby."
As we have further developments, we'll report them here and in our
publications, as soon as possible.
Mark Bundick, President
National Association of Rocketry
Dick Embry, President
Tripoli Rocketry Association
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Mark B. Bundick mbundick - at - earthlink - dot - net
NAR President www - dot - nar - dot - org
"A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but high
above the quiet streets on the twelfth floor of the Acme Building,
one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent
questions. Guy Noir, Private Eye."
Reply to
Mark B. Bundick
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Thanks for the great news! Where is my Scorpion, and when is the next launch in Texas (that WON'T be rained out!) ???
Reply to
tad danley
Thanks Mark for some positive news. Thanks to those on your team as well. It's good to know that we can concentrate more on building and flying.
Randy DeArman
Reply to
Ain't THAT the truth!!!
Reply to
based on what I can see, the pad acception only applies to SU motors and not reload kits. It does seem that the 62.5g limit for a SU motor is no longer valid however.
"fully assembled rocket motors are propellant actuated devices under the law and are exempt from regulation by BATFE."
Are there many vendors pushing SU motors over 62.5g? There might be in the near future!
Also, I wonder if this means that if I have an assembled RMS motor, it is exempt and doesn't need to be stored in a magazine, but if I have the reload kit unassembled, it needs ATF storage!
Reply to
AZ Woody
National Sport Launch, Hearne, TX, May 29-31. We're flying from the tarmac at the Hearne Municipal Airport, so nothing short of a hurricane will shut us down:
NSL '04 is proudly presented by the Austin Area Rocketry Group on behalf of the NAR, with the support of the entire Texas rocketry community, and special thanks going to our friends at the NASA/Houston Rocket Club.
_______________________ James Duffy NSL '04 Event Director
Reply to
James Duffy
Good question. You can bet they'll be needed to "fight the future."
Reply to
IIRC part of the lawsuit asked the court to bill the BATFE for our legal expenses. Have we submitted the bill yet? I'm sure both organizations could find plenty of uses for those fees, such as funding the next round of legal challenges against the BATFE, shipping regs, educational programs, etc...
Bob Kaplow NAR # 18L TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD" >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD!
Reply to
Bob Kaplow
If I am reading the below correctly, then the motor just needs to be assembled to be a PAD, not necessarily PERMANENTLY assembled.
Does this mean that if a manufacturer (or distributor) would provide a reload service (you send in your casing, they load it for you, and send it back to you assembled), that you would not need a LEUP to receive the ASSEMBLED motor?
Of course this would only apply until BATFE got around to changing the rules...
Bill the Geek, who has never flown anything larger than a G motor anyway.
Reply to
Bill VanRemmen
Unless the vendor would need a LEMP, as they are now building an "assembled rocket motor" for commercial use!
Reply to
AZ Woody
Wouldn't that actually be a LEAP, A for Assembly?
Reply to
bit eimer
snippet from Mark Bundik:
And, as our case proceeds, we will continue to need your financial support to build on this victory. We urge you to visit:
formatting link
and make a donation to the Legal Defense Fund today, in whatever amount you possibly can contribute. Your support and generosity will be recognized and acknowledged, and you'll be able to say "I supported the fight for an unregulated sport rocket hobby."
So obviously not, but I'd like an official answer to that question.
Reply to
Alan Jones
My $.02 worth:
The ruling states that a fully assembled rocket motor is a PAD.
The ruling does NOT state that a partially assembled rocket motor, or components of a rocket motor, are NOT PADs. In other words, unless explicitly spelled out (i.e., ONLY a fully assembled rocket motor is a PAD), there is still the possibility of a reload being considered a PAD.
I'm happy to be corrected if I'm misreading that, but if I'm correct, this means that another round of 'clarification' becomes necessary. On the other hand, it also leaves open the opportunity to 'assume' that a reload kit is a PAD, as it has been treated in the past, and let the BATFE prove that it isn't (and given the precedent that this case sets, and the judges advice, this is a distinct possibility).
David Erbas-White
Reply to
David Erbas-White
I am still unclear as to what is regulated and what is not.
Reply to
And my mo fo pussy hurts.
Reply to
New Mexico Rocket Dude
It is "unhelpful" that NAR sought a ruling on so narrow an interpretation and didn't broaden it to the entire language as currently in the regulation as follows:
27 CFR555.141 exemptions (a) (8) Gasoline, fertilizers, propellant actuated devices, or propellant actuated industrial tools manufactured, imported, or distributed for their intended purposes.
27 CFR 55.11, Propellant Actuated Device. Any tool or special mechanized device or gas generator system which is actuated by a propellant or which releases and directs work through a propellant charge.
Also by forcing a lawsuit on the obvious rather than just "living the lifestyle", NAR and TRA has once again awakened a sleeping giant and this time he has his sights set on the one and only sweeping exemption in the law as set forth above.
This is a dark day indeed for amateur rocketry.
Reply to
Jerry Irvine
If I'm reading it right, the ruling said that in the absence of a NPRM the 1994 precedent holds. So what was the 1994 precedent for reload kits?
-- Erik Ebert
Reply to
Erik Ebert
Ah, you finally figured out that the BATFE intends to issue an NPRM that removes rocket motors from the PAD exemption, so you are laying the groundwork to blame that on NAR/TRA as well?
-- David
Reply to
I'm with you on that one Jerry.
Reply to
You better get her to the doctor then.
Reply to

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